Kids’ Ski Touring Options–Hagan & Contour

Post by blogger | February 7, 2015      
Hagan Z02 Junior backcountry skiing binding.

Hagan Z02 Junior backcountry skiing binding.

Still at Ispo here in Munchen, Germany. Thought I’d get this out there quick as I believe it’s big news. Truly, I’ve lost count of how many times over the last decade I’ve been asked how to set up an “AT” style ski touring setup for kids. For a while Silvretta had the “Kidz” model Pure, but that dried up years ago. Since then it’s been a struggle for folks who’ve tried everything from modifying adult bindings to forcing their kids into boots three sizes too big so they can use adult bindings.

Enter Austrian ski company Hagan. “We’ll see how much of this stuff we actually sell,” they told me. I’m thinking it’ll be plenty, and want to give them kudos for taking the leap. The binding is of course the crux. To that, Hagan offers the Z02 Junior, a frame binding (works with any ski boot) running from 225-280 BSL, release values 2-7.

Hagan offers Sky Force skis to pair with Z02 downsized binding.

Hagan offers Sky Force skis to pair with Z02 downsized binding.

They also offer a specifically purposed kid’s “Sky Force” touring ski (125 cm, 135 cm and 145 cm) paired with re-branded Kola pre-cut skins.

Adding to the above, climbing skin company Contour (some of the best skins, in our opinion) is selling their Startup kid sized binding touring adapter (BSL 245-305). While a bit heavy and fiddly, this is definitely an option as well, especially if the kids in question are going short distances or are not highly motivated. Using the Startup, the youngster can tour with her alpine gear so she has total familiarity and won’t experience any gear issues on the descent. Since the Startup is adjustable for boot lengths and ski binding mount distances, it can stay in the family and be used over and over again for various ages.

Oh, and I know some of you are going to ask “why not a pintech binding for kids?” Word from the engineers is it’s tough to get a tech binding to yield release values below 3 or so. More, clicking into a tech binding would be a lot to ask of a younger, perhaps less motivated child, though kids as they grow and get involved can certainly graduate to tech binding setups adjusted to lower release value ranges, perhaps with modifications such as removing one of the rear lateral release springs.


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54 Responses to “Kids’ Ski Touring Options–Hagan & Contour”

  1. Wookie February 7th, 2015 2:01 am

    The contour adaptor works great! My 8 year old uses it on the hill behind our hut often and on short tours with me!
    Buying pure touring gear fora kid that outgrows it in one year is the big limiting factor. But as an adjustable frame binding, the Haagen might be able to do resort duty too.

  2. David Hackbarth February 7th, 2015 7:14 pm

    Thanks Lou for this Blog……In addition to a lack of children’s backcountry equipment there is a real shortage of options for small women’s backcountry equipment. The manufacturers making small sizes in boots 21, 22 and 23 are very little. Look for skis 155 Cm and smaller. Wow very little. Also backpacks look for any short frame backpacks or avy bags. Good luck!

  3. Lou Dawson 2 February 8th, 2015 8:16 am

    David, no reason the junior bindings coming on the market won’t work for smaller women, so that’ll be good. They’ll probably just rebrand some of this stuff eventually. But they’re not tech bindings… After seeing that the European ski touring population is about 50% women, it’s always amazed me that so few smaller sized boots are available.

    Some boots with tech fittings go small though, the Scott “Celeste” model (Cosmos) goes down to 23. Dynafit TLT6 goes down to 22.5, which I’m not sure is any shorter, could just be the liner sizing. Atomic Backland women’s will go down to 22.

    How small do you gals thing women’s boots should go down to? 21 seems pretty small, which short-lasted (shorter liner) could go to 20.

    Rule of thumb is It costs about 100,000 euros to make a boot mold for a given size.


  4. Steve February 9th, 2015 10:20 am

    Kinder Alpine Trekker!

  5. Ben February 10th, 2015 9:33 am

    Exactly what the ski touring world doesn’t need. Adult backcountry users are irresponsible enough and add another element of risk to ski touring through inconsiderate cornice drops and ski cuts above established skin routes regularly in the Wasatch. The last thing I want to encounter on a tour is someone with their obnoxious, irresponsible spawn. Stay at the resort until you’re old enough, skilled enough and composed enough to be able to implement an avy or injury recovery.

    Truly ridiculous that people are bringing this to market. When will the first family die in an avalanche as a result? Skiing is becoming a complete blood sport due to products like this and the condemnation of skiing anything but untracked. I hope these launches fail miserably.

  6. Lou Dawson 2 February 10th, 2015 9:42 am

    Ben, people ski tour all over the world in safe places that are totally appropriate for various age groups including youngsters. Agree that what’s inappropriate is inappropriate, but do exclude every person under a certain age worldwide just because of what you’ve seen in the Wasatch? Perhaps only skiers over 60 years old should be allowed?

  7. Wookie February 10th, 2015 10:54 am

    Oh man Ben.

    Don’t think touring. Think sledding except with skis.

    If my kid is any indication – this is what they are going to be doing.

    Course – I heard the U.S. wants to outlaw that too.

  8. Jim Knight February 10th, 2015 11:30 am

    It was an awesome experience for me to witness 3 generations touring together, hear their stories and share their track. In this case, a grandmother, her daughter and grandson on a 3-day high tour from Cham. Can’t think of a better way of teaching respect and responsibilty than parental example. I’m eagerly awaiting the day when my son, grandson and I tour together and grateful for gear that makes it possible and just keeps getting better. So bravo to Hagan, boo to bad apples.

  9. Michael Hagen February 11th, 2015 10:11 am

    Hello, Lou. Thanks for the article. We are excited about introducing junior gear and I hope it enables families to ski tour together. For the last few years, I’ve occasionally towed my daughter, now 8, on a bungee cord. Those have been tremendous experiences. With her being just ten feet behind me, we have had some wonderful conversations. But I’ve been towing her in her alpine gear. Being locked in an isometric “water skiing” mode, she gets tired and sometimes cold pretty quick. I look forward to her having AT gear so she can be more comfortable, warmer and even contribute some to our forward motion. But I do hope she will consent to being on tow for a few more years so we can have some more of those great up close conversations.

    One note, the BSL of the Z02 Junior will be 225-280 mm. A bit shorter than you mentioned. Should accommodate a Mondo size of about 18.5 or 19 depending on the boot manufacturer.

    The Sky Force junior skis have a 200mm front rocker. The 135cm length has a 10.9 meter turning radius, 112-81.5-107 sidecut and weights 850 grams. The Z02 Junior binding and the Sky Force skis will be available in September.

  10. Lou Dawson 2 February 11th, 2015 10:42 am

    Thanks Michael, those were the numbers in my notes, I’ll change. In any case I wish you well with selling the junior stuff, it’s certainly needed but who knows how much of a market there is for it. I guess we’ll find out. Lou

  11. Eric Steig February 14th, 2015 10:36 pm

    This post made my day! I am pretty darn excited about this new Hagan binding. I hope it is available next year. I will certainly by it, and tell my friends about it too — hopefully we can all get geared up before they stop selling them. We have one Silvretta Pure KIDZ binding, but my 2nd child needs one too (I bought the last KIDZ in the world 2 years ago, or at least the last one on the internet)!

    I just got back from a fantastic trip in Molines en Queyras (a place you really ought to check out, Lou). We spent 6 days touring in totally safe but fantastic and challenging conditions. My kids had one day on the lifts but mostly were much happier to be in the fresh untracked wild snow!

    Now we just need some good kids-sized touring boots (though I believe there is at least one company that makes a kids-size downhill boot with a “cocktail clip”).

  12. Michael Hagen February 17th, 2015 7:41 am

    Eric, the Z02 will be available this fall. (The Sky Force junior skis, too.) I am glad you are excited about it. Enabling families to ski tour together like you have with your kids is our goal. We hope many families have wonderful experiences they remember for a long time.

    We would love if the market is big enough to permit making Junior touring boots. Until then, for my daughter I will be looking for some rear-entry downhill boots in a used-gear shop. I’m told they make for a pretty decent uphill mode. My daughter will let me know this fall!

    Please tell more about the “cocktail clip” downhill boots. I couldn’t find anything useful in an online search.

  13. Razvan Diaconescu February 23rd, 2015 6:45 am

    Please have a look at this 7 years old how much he
    enjoys free touring. Especially have also a look at 5:40 in
    the film for what I consider to be the best kids setup (salomon+dynafit,
    invented by myself, but quite similar to CAST idea).

  14. Lou Dawson 2 February 23rd, 2015 7:09 am

    Very innovative Rasvan!

  15. Terrance February 23rd, 2015 8:49 pm

    What model salomon is that? Super cool, I want one!

  16. Razvan Diaconescu February 24th, 2015 1:03 am

    Terrance, it is TZ5 I think; but this is not so important, almost
    any demo or rental binding would do. Perhaps I owe more
    explanations here. I bought 2 pairs of Salomon Shogun
    for my son, one 120cm, the other 130cm because he is growing
    anyway and each year or year and half needs a new pair of skis.
    Since they came both with the same binding I took the front plates
    of one of them, unmounted the salomon toes and replaced them with
    dynafit toes (which are available for sale in several places;
    actually I got them from US by post). So downhill he skis safely
    on an ordinary alpine setup while uphill he uses the dynafit.
    Very easy to switch between these. The other problem are of
    course the boots. I got him a pair of Scarpas size 23 which are
    quite large now for him, but actually it is not that bad if you take
    care a little bit.

  17. Tony Jewell October 22nd, 2015 4:10 pm

    I’ve been using the Fritschi Scout for my son which goes down to a DIN 3. He’s just now getting big enough (age 11) to be at this setting. I adjusted the DIN setting as much as possible to below the “3” mark and have been crossing my fingers for the last two years! This binding has been working great for him and he uses it for lift skiing too, but I’m glad to see another option which could be better for smaller kids like my son’s younger brother!

  18. Lou Dawson 2 October 22nd, 2015 4:52 pm

    Thanks for chiming in Tony. Yeah, it’s hard to adjust any kid’s binding to low enough setting when the kid is really small. It’s kind of a joke even with kid’s alpine binding, as kids are so flexible they would hardly ever effectuate a release even at low settings. Main thing is set things so they don’t pre-release and get hurt and bummed out! Lou

  19. Tony Jewell October 23rd, 2015 1:50 pm

    Any idea when these will become available? Michael Hagen says this Fall. I’ve been looking around and haven’t found any in the States.

  20. Lou Dawson 2 October 23rd, 2015 3:33 pm

    Tony, I’d re-contact Michael Hagen. And perhaps he’ll chime in here? Michael, you got a copy? Michael?

  21. Michael Hagen October 23rd, 2015 4:33 pm

    Hello Tony, the Z02 Junior bindings are on the way from across the pond. A handful of retailers around the U.S. will be carrying them. Write me at info at and I’ll be glad to point to the retailer closest to you.

  22. Lou Dawson 2 October 23rd, 2015 6:02 pm

    Thanks Michael! If the retailers are limited, perhaps email me a list and I’ll put links directly in the blog post. Lou

  23. Lisa November 3rd, 2015 4:18 am

    Kids tried ski touring for a day last year and now think it is the ONLY thing to do this coming season.

    Now looking for that visionary ski rental shop to hire us three sets for the season. Can pick up from the Valais (Switzerland) up to Freiburg (Germany) and east to Zurich. Anyone have a solution?

    Perhaps Michael Hagen will get a call from our favourite ski hire shop who are also looking into it!

  24. Lisa Dawson November 3rd, 2015 8:04 am

    Lisa, sounds like you’ll have fun this winter!

    Our young friends tested the Contour StartUps last spring and they liked them. The StartUps are adjustable for sole lengths from 245 to 305 mm so if you have to buy instead of rent, they would work as the kid’s feet grow.

    If you can’t find a retailer, contact Werner Koch at

    For Hagan, Sport Kiefer in Freiburg, Germany is listed as a Hagan dealer (Schwarzwaldstraße 173, 79102 Freiburg, E-Mail If they can’t help you, contact Michael Hagen at

    Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

  25. Michael Hagen November 4th, 2015 6:32 pm

    Hello Lisa,

    Hagan’s Swiss importer is IBEX Sport GmbH. Contact person: Ernst Muoser
    Naasstrasse 12
    6315 Morgarten
    Tel +41 (0)41 750 60 61

    Contact Ernst and possibly he can point you to a retailer to rent from.

  26. Lisa November 5th, 2015 6:17 am

    Thanks Michael!
    Our very fabulous ski hire shop has found where to get your skis and with any luck we’ll be all set for the season!

  27. Buzooko November 28th, 2015 1:29 pm

    I had a look at the Hagan z02 Junior and there is a big problem with kids boot compatibility! The toe piece is just to wide for the smaller kids size DIN Boottip! You can easily adjust the heigth to the bootsole, works great! but you cant adjust the width of the double swingarms to the width of the boottip. The result is a lot of lateral play, which in my opinion is a big safety issue!! This problem is on boots up to size 22 MP (soles getting bigger and wider from size 22) on most manufacturers. Tried Nordica, Tecnica, Dalbello an Lange. Every Boot i tried was in the recommended BSL range. Is there an upgrade or a hidden adjustment screw? If not, this binding is not engineered well, or i missed sonething…

  28. Michael Hagen November 28th, 2015 9:46 pm

    There is a difference between Junior and Kids boots that apparently is well known and understood in Europe, but is not as commonly understood in the U.S. The Z02 Junior bindings are only compatible with Junior boots — not kids boots. The key difference being that the toe and heel lugs on the boots must be the same width and height as on adult boots, not the narrower and thin toe and heel lugs found on kids boots.

    There is an ISO standard for adult size toe and heel lugs: a 33 +/- 3 mm front width of the sole before it is merging into the radius, etc. In simple practice, if the toe and heel lugs are thinner and narrower than on an adult boot, it is a kids boot, not a junior boot, and it is incompatible with the Z02 Junior binding.

  29. Lisa January 16th, 2016 9:42 am

    Urgent call out for a pair of HAGEN junior touring bindings asap in Switzerland. Does anyone have a pair?
    We have the HAGEN skis and skins but bindings were for wrong weight.

  30. Michael Hagen January 17th, 2016 4:27 pm

    Hello Lisa, the Hagan distributor in Switzerland is IBEX Sport GmbH in Morgarten. +41-417506061, I hope they can help you.

  31. Lisa Dawson January 17th, 2016 4:40 pm

    Michael, thanks for your help!

  32. Lisa January 18th, 2016 12:28 am

    Thanks Michael. I understand from our ski shop that IBEX are not able to get them. (I have now contacted them directly on behalf of our ski shop just in case) Do you have another source our ski shop can use exceptionally?
    Many thanks

  33. Lisa January 18th, 2016 1:39 am

    Yes Michael – I just had confirmation from IBEX that they will not have any until September. (Yes true. Number one contacted us for those bindings. But unfortunately they are sold out for this season. We will get those set only next sept.)This means we miss the whole season. Could you kindly tell us where else we can get them? ASAP. Many thanks!

  34. Wookie January 18th, 2016 2:31 am

    Hi Lisa –

    order them online at Sport Conrad in Garmisch:

    appear to be in stock and on sale.

  35. Michael Hagen January 18th, 2016 10:58 am

    Hello Lisa, Since you are in Switzerland Sport Conrad looks to be a good source. I was able to get some additional stock of Z02 Juniors and these retailers in the U.S. have them unless they sold out recently: Outdoor Gear Exchange, Cripple Creek Backcountry, Backcountry Experience, Ute Mountaineer, and CampSaver.

  36. Lisa January 18th, 2016 1:52 pm

    Thank you everyone for your help here! We now have a pair of bindings making their way to our ski shop to be fitted – all in time to catch this great snow we are finally having!

  37. Jo Mitchell March 9th, 2016 2:51 pm

    I have some spare fritchi diamir bindings – that have DIN settings down to a 3 – that I was wondering about putting on my 12 year old daughters 130cm skis. She only weighs 5 stone and will be skiing mainly on pistes (blue/red some black) – just wondering if this a good/bad idea both from safety (knees) and learning technique- the bindings raise her up off the ski by a couple of extra cm – any advice would be great.

  38. Tony Jewell March 10th, 2016 5:57 am

    Hi Jo, I’ve been using the Fritschi Scouts for my son for the last few seasons. He is now a little over 90 pounds and this is about where a DIN 3 comes in. (Look up DIN settings on the web — there are variables such as boot size and ski ability.) I basically held my breath and hoped that nothing would go wrong for the first two seasons although my son is a pretty cautious skier and rarely falls. I personally would be a little nervous with the Fritchi’s for your daughter. The Z02 Juniors would be a better choice for sure and would give you some peace of mind!

  39. Lou Dawson 2 March 10th, 2016 6:24 am

    I’d agree, if a kid specific touring binding is out there, that’s what should be on a kid’s feet. I’d ask, would you put them in an adult helmet that didn’t fit? Would you make them wear your shoes to school? Or getting more specific, if you’re going to put your kid in an adult binding, then perhaps you should as a matter of principle ski in a kid’s binding (grin). Get the point?

    But do check the DIN setting charts. If your daughter can ski at release value 3 and she can do at least an assisted self release check, then the Fritschi would work. In my experience with my son when he was young, the vertical upwards release is what seemed to always be too stiff. We could relax the lateral side release by using a bit less forward pressure and watching friction issues, or in the case of tech bindings, by changing the lateral release spring.


  40. Peter Horvath March 14th, 2016 3:14 pm
  41. Lou Dawson 2 March 14th, 2016 3:25 pm

    Peter, I can’t get the smile off my face. Thanks for brightening up my day.

  42. Jo Mitchell March 14th, 2016 4:23 pm

    Thanks for all the comments on the children’s bindings- now hoping to borrow some BCA alpine trekkers to use on the uphill and then she can ski in her normal downhill bindings the rest of the time.

  43. Lou Dawson 2 March 14th, 2016 4:58 pm

    Jo, just realize the adapters add weight to an already heavy setup, and can feel awkward, start easy, just for play, no pressure. Lou

  44. Razvan Diaconescu March 15th, 2016 4:34 am

    Peter, was that in the Tatras? Also, I do not quite
    understand the setup of the youngest one. Absolutely
    wonderful kids, I wish they would backcountry ski together
    with my son sometimes.

  45. Matus March 15th, 2016 5:54 am

    Razvan, I am not the author, but yes, those videos are from High Tatras, Slovakia. I guess the small one uses classic XC skis/bindings with climbing skins.

  46. Joanna mitchell March 15th, 2016 11:47 am

    Thanks Lou, will be very easy start. Staying in a hut 30 mins walk from ski area so any set up should beat walking and carrying skis! No doubt will also play around on mini adventures while we are there. Thanks for above.

  47. Peter Horváth April 4th, 2016 12:54 am
  48. Chad Miller November 10th, 2016 2:43 pm

    My 8 yr old son has, and fits in, the smallest woman’s AT boot. I have an extra pair of dynafit tech bindings and am interested in taking one of the springs an achieve a lower DIN setting per your comment:

    “tech binding setups adjusted to lower release value ranges, perhaps with modifications such as removing one of the rear lateral release springs.”

    Would the unequal pressure in the binding be a concern with only one spring present? And you also mention “changing the lateral release spring.” Is there a less powerful spring I can get somewhere?

  49. Al Olby November 30th, 2016 1:14 am

    Thanks for all the info here, really useful. Up to now I cut a pair of skins to fit my son’s classic xc skis and we hike to the top of the gondola and ride down (or I pull a sledge behind me and he bombs down on that when conditions permit!) Here’s his first outing last year:

    Lou, we live in fast and light country (Swiss Alps) and my son would really like to get some proper touring gear now. He’s 9, 32kg and is a very strong skier (in local race team, I can no longer follow his line – and I was a race trainer myself years ago…) He skis on 3.5 DIN right now but that will probably have to go up a bit for races this year.

    The Hagan skis look great, but plate bindings go against the grain here. I’ve looked at the ATK RT Lightweight and wonder if there’s a way to modify the spring for a slightly lower release setting. Any ideas much appreciated (for the ATK or any other tech binding)?

    We may just wait a while till he’s bigger and stick it out with the XC kit as it’s fast and light for the up. Any thoughts much appreciated.

    Peter, great adventures! What’s the set up you have for your smallest? I can’t quite make it out on the videos. XC kit I guess. Like Lou, they put a big smile on my face. Wonderful.

  50. Lou Dawson 2 November 30th, 2016 9:32 am

    Al, if you get a Dynafit Speed Turn and pull the center spring out of the double spring that controls lateral release of rear, then enlarge heel gap about a mm and set upward release to low setting, you can sometimes get things into the youth range. But doing so is iffy in terms of how good the retention and release performance will be in real life. On the other hand, since the boy is growing like a weed during rain season in the high Alps, perhaps just get him on a non-modified set of bindings, set to lowest settings for now, and go. Ultimately, as it comes down to with anything, even gate racing, you’ve got a balance of risk and reward that only your family can decide on. Lou

  51. Al Olby December 1st, 2016 3:14 am

    Thanks Lou, much appreciated.

  52. Slim March 14th, 2018 12:00 pm

    Hi, does anyone have a pair of old skins they’d want to sell?

    Looking for something for my daughter’s ski, 128cm long x 75mm waist/106mm tip. Since she won’t use them much, or keep the skis for long, I’d like to keep the price in check, vs buying new.

    So, if you have a pair of skins that is worn at the tail end, but still has about 128cm of decent plush up front, or a pair of wider skins that are worn down along the sides, but could be trimmed to a 75mm waist, let me know and help get a kid out.

  53. Lou Dawson 2 March 14th, 2018 1:34 pm

    Hi Slim, get in touch with and I know Cripple Creeks ends up with skins that can be cut down and are spent for their full size. I’ll look around here and see if I have anything. Lou

  54. atfred March 14th, 2018 5:18 pm

    Hey Slim,

    I have some older, but still nice sets of skins that I’d be happy to donate to a good cause. Let’s talk via private e-mail.

    Lou, how can we do that?


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